May 17th, 2011
01:44 PM ET
Heaven is 'a fairy story,' scientist Stephen Hawking says
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
The concept of heaven or any kind of afterlife is a "fairy story," famed British scientist Stephen Hawking said in a newspaper interview this week.
"I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail," the physicist said in an interview published Sunday in Britain's Guardian newspaper. "There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark."
Hawking, who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis - a terminal and debilitating illness that causes loss of mobility and impairs speech - at age 21 and was not expected to live long after, also talked with The Guardian about his own mortality.
"I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years," said Hawking, 69. "I'm not afraid of death, but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first."
In a book published last year, Hawking wrote that God did not create the universe, in what he said was an attempt to banish a divine creator from physics.
Hawking says in the book "The Grand Design" that given the existence of gravity, "the universe can and will create itself from nothing."
"Spontaneous creation is the reason why there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist," he wrote in the introduction of the book, which was published in September.
"It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper (fuse) and set the universe going," Hawking wrote.
CNN's Richard Greene contributed to this report.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
Welll he's just a scientist for one. Scientist's go by theories and try to prove them wrong. A theory is an "educated guess". That's all. He has a great mind, but not the mind of God. Only spiritual things can be revealed to those who have taken upon them the faith in Jesus Christ and have the Gift of the Holy Ghost. God has revealed to man many things, which are eternal laws alread in place. But the natural man will never know the things of God for they are spiritually discerned. BIG difference. The Lord said he that is greatest in the Kingdom of God shall be the least and servant of all. Education is good, but to be a humble servant of Jesus Christ and to keep His commandments is better. Notice that Jesus chose fishermen and other's to be His Apostles, not the educated men of this world. Why? Humility. Just because science has not found out all of God's laws, doesn't mean that a short quip that "it's a fairy tale" is the summary conclusion. When Mr. Hawkins dies, there will be more of God's laws revealed unto man. It is an exciting time to live right now. I'm sure that Mr. Hawkins also believes that the lining up of the planets and their sphere of order and regular movements are not by chance. There is order in the universe. God even said my house is a house of order. So, my faith is not shaken when a scientist makes a claim like this; it doesn't even phase me or my faith. I know that there is a God and he created the universe and that at HIS WILL He will reveal more of His mighty works to man as time goes on. In fact, just look at the face of it. Mr. Hawkins subscribes to the theory of Evolution and the Big Bang theory. So he's been on tiny planet earth for less than 100 years verses billions of years and this is his conclusion? I haven't discovered how God created all of this; I'm not sure I will find out in my lifetime, but I know its a blend of science and faith. I mean if the axis of the earth were off only a few degrees, the sun would completely destroy and burn up the earth. I don't think this happened "randomly." There will always be people like Hawkins who think they knnow it all, when in fact they really know nothing at all.
the bottom line is that for us to decide who is right – you or Hawkins – what we have is a man that has scientific proof on his side and you have what in essence is nothing but hearsay
and no, a theory is not just an educated guess – it is the best explanation of the Facts available.
You have no clue what you are talking about. A theory in science is a conclusion supported by the facts. A hypothesis is an educated guess. That fact that you don't know that clearly demonstrates that you have nothing to offer this discussion. You are mindless indoctrinated automaton. You spew religious propaganda which makes you nothing more than a vector for the religion virus. You are the human equivalent of a malaria mosquito.
That (theory) makes no sense. How can the universe create itself from nothing? Where does the energy come from? There is always a source or point of origin.
you say that like a true human who can only conceive of beginning and end... guess what pal... There doesn't have to be a beginning to the existence of energy/matter.. you think there does... but ... there doesn't
Where does the energy go when you die?
The energy is released into the environment in proximity to your lifeless body. The energy is taken up and stored by bacteria that consumes your corpse. There is no net loss of energy when someone dies that suggests a soul must exist.
we are all clones of the same thing with minor variations in genetics that give us uniqueness.. but in the end you interacting with another human is you talking to your potential "self" The energy flow keeps us upright but if there is a soul there is only one soul and it is the whole of all energy
That statement would mean everything has a soul. Do pool balls have souls? They collide and their energy is traded from one to the other, bouncing off in all different directions. No "net loss" of energy when those pool balls go knocking around so they must have a soul too, right?
I think Hawking is speaking outside of his field of expertise, always a dangerous practice. Even more so in that it is impossible that he could ever be proven right, and possible that he could be proven wrong. He could be proven wrong by having God intervene, but as for being proven right, no God, no intervention.
For all the posters on this blog claiming there is no proof of the existence of God, I say you are not looking, or not accepting the evidence that is in front of you. As I understand it, most doctors have experienced having clients undergo miraculous cures, but are not willing to speak up for fear of being ridiculed. The same kind of ridicule that occurs on this blog. If a few doctors with this kind of story were to post here, what would be the reaction? I am guessing it would not be kind. Probably not going to happen, either, because of client confidentiality.
No kind of book is proof of God, because someone could be making it up, but a good place to start would be Larry Dossey's book, "The Power of Premonitions." No religion, no faith, just facts, and ways for you to prove for yourself that this universe does not go strictly by the rules that scientists have worked out so far. I have "faith" that someday mainstream scientists will figure that out, and expand the frontiers of human knowledge past where scientific dogma has confined it. Until then, the unexplainable experiences will continue to be ridiculed and denied.
you present at most anecdotal proof – in order for this stuff (i.e. religion) to be the basis of policy or law, we need scientific proof – not hearsay.
Well at least some of these scientists' calculations and theories are backed up by physical measurements and observations of the cosmos. Granted, on a par though, both theoretical physics and religion might only be assumptions without real proof. But where does this leave us? If both are wrong, then we're definitely going to be dead as a doornail when we finally kick the bucket.
@jacob "you present at most anecdotal proof – in order for this stuff (i.e. religion) to be the basis of policy or law, we need scientific proof – not hearsay."
When did this discussion get promoted to the basis of policy or law? This is the Belief Blog. Also, I am not talking about religion here. I am talking about strange things that happen that physics would claim cannot happen. Perhaps they happen because of a God, or because we are in something like the Matrix. What I am very sure of is that the universe is not what it appears to be or what physics claims it is.
For matters of scientific studies and proof, try reading the book I mentioned to see serious discussions of the science. It is all there. Anecdotal evidence (not anecdotal "proof" by the way) is not considered proof, only the foundation on which hypotheses and experiments can be based to determine what is actually happening. These things are non-replicable, like car accidents. It is hard to do research on non-replicable events, but there are ways to do it. Just like doing research on car accidents.
But the best way to investigate for your own satisfaction is to start asking your friends and relatives whom you trust to tell you their experiences with dreams, premonitions, visions, etc. Ask them if they have ever had anything happen to them that they thought could not happen by the laws of physics, and if they trust you to not laugh at them or dismiss them, then maybe they'll tell you. Maybe.
Anecdotes are a strange kind of evidence. They suggest things that may be going on, so you can investigate the phenomenon. But a single event can prove or disprove things. After all, you may not be able to replicate an event like that, but if it is something that violates the laws of physics, you don't have to. One experience can prove that the laws of physics are not what we believe them to be. However, after the event is over, it becomes an anecdote (or, if you are really lucky, a YouTube video) and an anecdote is just a story that is not proof to anyone who did not see the event.
At one time the greatest thinkers of the time thought the world was flat. Just because Stephen Hawking is a brilliant man does not make him right about everything. If you truely want to inf out read "The Case for the Creator" by Lee Strobel
Plain and simple. When the brain doesn't have any fuel, (carbohydrates, blood, etc.) it's light out. If anyone has a problem understanding that.....I suggest you obtain a GED and sneak your way into college and study physics, biology, science or whateve,r to help rid yourself of ancient beliefs like the tooth fairy, easter bunny, santa claus, angels, ghosts, rising from the dead, gods and free your mind and move forward. Or.....stay stuck in your old and tired useless beliefs and pray that some priest doesn't molest your children. Good luck all.
E=mc^2... Interdependence... Relativity... Reality... don't know myself...
Something to consider – "Science" as such is a process whereby one forms a hypothesis and then tries to DISPROVE it. In order to be accepted, the results obtains which go AGAINST that theory – that help PROVE it, in other words, must be REPLICATED in an INDEPENDENT AND SEPARATE LABORATORY. That most-often is not done these days – and that's been true for some time. Science therefore is a theology based on one's biased world-views and – yes – Faith.
This is no longer done and you have proof of this? Please provide me with the proof of your statement, rather than just stating it like all your other zealot friends and I'll believe what you're saying. Just want to see the numbers, that's all.
Mr .Hawking is absolutly correct in his asumption that there is no God and who would know better then him wheter or not the Universe needed a divine creator its never even been remotely evident there has ever been a god as a catholic i readily believe that jesus did exist but he most definitly had a mother and most definitly a father, fiction has existed since man kind developed brain matter and we would all as human's like 2 believe in the afterlife but if I am 2 b corrected it will have 2 b in the afterlife, then not just i will stand corrected but all mankind heres hoping when my time is up that the worlds greatest mind is wrong but gravity rules and if we as human's r 2 survive its because of gravity, no gravity 2 start no mankind end of story . i want and i need 2 believe but how when logic prevails
How difficult is it to type out the following words?
Not very. The shift key is very easily accessible. There are two of them on your keyboard. Look around, you'll find them.
I feel sorry for all of you. Id rather believe in God and find out their isn't than to die and go to hell and find out their is. You tell me how else me and my 17 month old lived through a horrific accident with a fully loaded logging semi and WALKED away unharmed??????
just lucky my dear nothing more nothing less
Angela, which god do you believe in? What if you believe in the wrong one?
some people in similar situations just die, so what makes you so special ?
People want to feel better than others – so they say they are "blessed" instead of lucky. It's all about vanity in the end.
What about the 30,000 + people who died last year in car accidents in the US alone?
This is supreme stupidity Angela. To say you have faith because you are scared of being set on fire after you die is just assanine. Lets assume for a second that God is real. This supreme being had the ability to create an entire planet in 7 days but he can't tell that you are faking your devotion to him? You have faith because you do, not because "why not cover my bases". You are a disgrace to an already disgrace ridden religion. Christianity is more about postering and money than God. He sees that if he is there and I'd like to think YOU people are in more danger of being punished by him than anyone.
Well at least some of the theories are backed up by physical measurements and observations of the cosmos. Granted, on a par though, both theoretical physics and religion might only be assumptions without real proof. But where does this leave us? If both are wrong, then we're definitely dead as a doornail when we kick the bucket.
You are all missing Angela's main point. She would rather believe in God and find out there isn't one than not believe in God and find out there is. This is Pascal's Wager in a nutshell.
The accident is beside the point, but it was convincing to her. I know someone who got a premonition when she was stopped at a red light behind a truck, that she had to get out from behind that truck, which she did. When the light turned green the truck started up and its entire load fell out the back. If she hadn't moved it would have fallen right on top of her. I would bet that everyone posting here knows someone with a similar story or one even more unexplainable. I have personally had dreams that came true in every detail, including the strong feeling of deja vu that I felt both in the dream and during the events that happened in real life.
@ Reed – you are the one who seems to be missing the point. For every one instance of a person who does something "mysterious" that saves them from some sort of terrible accident, there are thousands who don't and end up dying. If you have mystical thinking than you automatically say, "Wow, I must be really special. God (or allah, or buddha, or harry potter) must really have something big in store for me!" Yet, you seem to forget ALL THE GOOD PEOPLE WHO DIE. It's just luck. Even if there is a god and he is blessing you, that blessing itself is LUCK! You have done nothing to receive it – or do you really believe that all those people who died in accidents deserved to die?????? So do you really think all the people who were in the twin towers on September 11th deserved to die????
Trying to "banish a divine creator from physics" as Hawking claims he is trying to do, makes about a much sense as trying to remove Bach from music, or to erase Michelangelo from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, or to rip Tolstoy out of the pages of "War and Peace". This comment betrays Hawking's real intent. He worships physics, and despises He who invented it. This is a classic example of someone who does indeed believe in God, it just that Hawking views himself as the creator.
And your comment is a perfect example of a non-sequitur. Science by its very nature is non-dogmatic. Claiming that there's zero evidence for a creator because there's zero evidence for a creator is called being "intellectually honest."
Haha. You guys are just NUTS! So Mike V.....uhm, the fact that we have creation doesn't imply to you just a weeeebit, that there might possibly be a, oh, let's say, 'A CREATOR!' Hahaha.....is this a panel of rocket scientist or what? Everybody here is referring to 'common sense.' But just for the sake of argument, it's not even attempted. You don't need to be a scientist, a Christian, or even have common sense to know that everything created has a Creator!
First off let me say this....I love Stephen Hawking, he is a fascinating person to listen to, and his insights into the universe are wonderful and open your mind to things you never knew possible........but i will say this.......If Stephen Hawking is right and their is no God, then Big deal, you die and nothing happens.....But if he is wrong, He and all you nay sayers will be burning in eternal damnation....Which doesn't sound to exciting to me. SO at the end of the day, its better to have little faith that your life is more meaningful then just a useless spec of dust that means absolutely nothing to the universe. Oh yeah and for anyone who wants to sit here and bash me for being a christian, i'm not, nor am i muslim, nor am i apart of any other organized religion. If their is a God, he is beyond our understanding, and we can't put human characteristics to him, like people have been doing for centuries.
who told you enternal damnation is true? and how do they know it's true even remotely?
So you have faith because it's better than "eternal damnation"? Just curious because that sounds like believing in Santa because if you don't, you won't get any presents. I won't even touch on how ridiculous a reason it is to believe someone walked on water and was born of a virgin.
If I told you there was a diamond the size of a washing machine buried in your backyard, would you go look for it or apply your common sense to my statement and require my proving of such a claim? I'm guessing the latter but if someone tells you about a guy who turned water into wine and of burning bushes that speak to you, you believe it. Peace out, common sense. Wish I could live in a world where I chose where and when to apply reasoning in believing something. Life would be gorgeous!
Why haven't we found ANY evidence of the charriots, the metal weapons and shields, lost in the Red Sea story? And don't get me started on the absurdity behind the theology of Christianity.
I'm not a believer, but there is actually evidence of a widespread flood in the holy land around the time those stories are based. It could be (like a lot of other stories in the Bible), the basis for the story and not a complete fabrication.
Uhhh... That kind of stuff rots and rusts away over time. Funny though; faith in God persists. 'Wonder why...
Actually, they have found evidence of the chariots in the Red Sea. And as far as eveidence that both Heaven and Hell exists; there have been many many eyewitness accounts over a span of many years from individuals that were pronounced dead, and were revived (non-Christians by the way. Infact even some that previously didn't even believe in God at all). But as it is written, these things are spiritually discerned. Which explains why Mr. Hawkins and those that apposes the idea on this panel are simply unable to comprehend this. Ironically, you have to have a relationship with God, in order to develop such insight. I pray for your souls.
Stephen Hawking prepare yourself for fire of H. Allah created Adam, peace be upon him. All human beings are descended from him. Allah has granted people life in this world to test them, and sent them messengers to communicate their responsibilities. Everyone is put to the test in this world by the events he experiences. In other words, we are put to the test in our reactions to the incidents we encounter, the way we speak and our steadfastness in the face of difficulties: In brief, whether we conduct ourselves correctly. This test will serve to determine our lot in the afterlife. But the test in this world has a very important secret. As a great mercy and comfort granted to mankind, Allah created destiny. Destiny, that is, all the incidents one experiences throughout life, is predetermined by Allah even before one's birth. For each person, Allah creates his or her unique destiny. Allah has created all we call the universe as a test for us. This is not our final destination. What we might consider to be "bad" or "good" could actually be quite the opposite.
Blessed is He in Whose Hand is the dominion, and He has the Ability to do all things.
(He's the One) Who has created death and life, so He may test you which of you is best in deed. And He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving; (He's the One) Who has created the seven heavens one above another, you can see no fault in the creations of the Most Beneficent. Then look again: "Can you see any rifts?"
Then look again and yet again, your sight will return to you in a state of humiliation and worn out. [Noble Quran 67:1-4]
You could have just said "[Circular reasoning]" and spared us the paragraphs.
wow, where did you get all this true information??!?! idiot
Everyone is an atheist. There must be a god you don't believe in whether that is Zeus, Thor, Yahweh, Vishnu, etc. You can't believe in them all because they contradict one another. So if you can understand why you don't believe in someone else's god, you should be able to understand why some people don't believe in yours. So the only difference between you and a true atheist is that atheist believes in one fewer gods than you. And for those of you who think your christian, jewish, islamic, etc. god will punish atheists for not believing in him, then perhaps you'll join them in line for the fire and brimstone when you find out that the one true god is Camulos, or Anubis or the flying spaghetti monster. Must be sad going through life believing a lie.
And how the heck would HE know??? Where's his EVIDENCE???
(One way or the other.)
MOST irrational thing he's ever said.
Admittedly he's making a leap; the same leap that I would make if I claimed there were no such thing as invisible unicorns.
You want evidence you should as a Christian for it since they seem to have a monopoly on it. LOL! Oh, and if someone can prove it let us know.
Are we living in such a time that we actually need a theoretical physicist to tell us this?????
So, let's see, religon, God, no proof they exist. So let's see Hawking prove one of his theories. I rate them about equal on the scale of believeability. We just don't have the mental capacity to figure it out yet.
He has. And he's proved other peoples' theories, too.
YOU just don't understand them.
Well at least some of the calculations and theories are backed up by physical measurements and observations of the cosmos. Granted, on a par though, both theoretical physics and religion might only be assumptions without real proof. But where does this leave us? If both are wrong, then we're definitely dead as a doornail when we kick the bucket.
A theory is not provable, they are simply never disproved to be accepted as probable. See how that works? It's called science. They taught that in the 7th grade and up.
Mr. Hawking's OPINION is just that; his opinion. It's no statement of fact but he's no more guilty of making a statement based on opinion while voicing it in a manner eluding to fact than the religious zealots are of all their opinions. Your theories are disproved all the time, which in turn, makes your opinions moot to those of us who have the ability to apply reasonable deduction and common sense to that which is told to us.
Just another egg head publically expounding guesses about stuff they don't know anything about in a vain attempt to get into the newspaper. If he's so smart why doesn't he use his great big brain to think up ways to make things better for the rest of us instead of droning on and on about space and stuff.
If you can't see that advancing science benefits all of us, I'm not sure there's any hope for you.
So he's supposed to be superman and fix all the stupid in the world? Religion is as good a place to start as any.
Its amazing that this is news worthy. Next he'll be telling us that there's no Santa or Tooth Fairy.
Self proclaimed smart peoples' only explanation of things they cannot explain is, "it just happened by itself, God didn't do it." I find that argument to be quite a statement of fact... the fact that these people really don't accept any argument pertaining to religion as an explanation of Science.
Stephen Hawkings is not smart. He's successful.. there's a difference.
Since when is 1) Stephen Hawking's a "self-proclaimed" smart person, and 2) "not smart"?
While it may be out of line to claim that there no magical afterlife, it's certainly reasonable to assert that there's zero evidence of any. It's not that scientists say "it just happened"; they just admit when they don't know the cause for something and don't pretend it must have been magic simply because it's too complex for them to understand.
How dare he say heaven,the easter bunny,santa claus and the tooth fairy don't exist he sure is stupids. I mean how the hell are ya gonna get colored eggs at easter?
I enjoy the fact that while you call him 'not smart', you misspelled his name in the same sentence.
Well, so far we've been able to show how life can evolve without the need for god. So where's your evidence?
First of all, *Hawking.
Second of all, he has a B.A. from University College, Oxford, a PhD from Cambridge, has taught at Caltech and Cambridge, has published immensely popular books, has won the Albert Einstein Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (among others), and has pioneered new physics, both astrophysics and quantum physics.
But I'm sure he's not "smart," just "successful," right?
So do you guys just see a dissenting opinion and scream the first words/insults you can think of? That's my only conclusion.
Stephen Hawking's IQ is a very kosher 160. What's yours?
Also, if you're "Smarter Than Hawkings" as your screenname denotes, how in the world can you put any form of trust in a book that was written 300 years after the death of Christ by people who had no idea the world was round, then compiled by a council convened with the sole purpose of consolidating the people of Rome under one man who was and still is considered to be a mad man? Just curious.
Do you have any idea who Dr. Hawking is? You do not have to agree with him by the way, we already know the way most of the smart people think about the beginning of the universe.
Dear Smarter than Hawkings – I hate to bust your bubble however Dr Hawkings is not only successful he is recognized by the scientific community as a brilliant physicist. Those of us that do not believe in the "supreme being" mythology so ingrained in the psyche of so many do not choose to explain all that is currently unknown by placing our belief system in something that is even more improbable and scientifically untestable. If you were truly honest with yourself you would recognize that there is not one single piece of evidence to support your "god delusion". Maybe it makes you sleep better at night but it does not make it true.
Are you kidding?!! If it weren't for the laughable grammar gaffs of these supposed sages, the "Sound Off" section would have no value at all!
I agree that it's certainly reasonable to assert that there's zero evidence if any. But, from the article, Hawking's is stating that God didn't create the universe, and that heaven does not exists. He states this as evidence, but then he follows up with nothing?
He did claim that it just happened as well. "Hawking says in the book "The Grand Design" that given the existence of gravity, "the universe can and will create itself from nothing."